Brooks Koepka is out of his funk and chasing his fifth major



CNN

For Brooks Koepka, choosing a favorite major victory is like choosing a favorite child.

Or at least that’s what it feels like. The 32-year-old has no children of his own, but the four glittering trophies displayed in his home are all equally precious.

A matching pair of US Open and PGA Championship trophies were collected in an unprecedented period between 2017 and 2019, becoming the first golfer in American history to win back-to-back majors at the same time. Before Koepka, no one had won the first four majors in two years.

That means half of the eight wins on the PGA Tour are major wins. For Koepka, it’s a relationship he’s not happy with.

“Nothing is the same, professions are different. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, you appreciate it,” Koepka told CNN.

“If you look at all the greats that have ever played the game, most people can’t tell you how many PGA Tour events or how many European Tour events this person won or that person won, but they know how many majors you’ve won.”

“So to me, that’s what defines you.”

They’re words that make for tough reading for talented golfers who have never won a major or are still chasing it. Colin Montgomery, Lee Westwood and Rickie Fowler, with 11 runner-up finishes between them, are three popular players who, despite a string of professional wins, have been out of reach for the majors.

Koepka has previously explained that major tournaments are easier to win. It’s his unapologetic candor. In fact, he considers it a strength.

“I’m very open, I don’t like to beat around the bush. I just tell it how it is, I’ve always been that way,” he said. “I know my monotony eases the pain a little for people, but that’s how I feel.

“I love that athletes are self-deprecating or self-confident – I think that’s important. It is necessary for everyone, regardless of profession or occupation.

“If you think you’re the best, go ahead and say it, then do it again.”

Koepka supported him. The Floridian has finished in the top five in 12 of his 34 career major starts, including three runner-up finishes.

He’s only been cut five times, and two of those came during a tough season last year.

Koepka’s current Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) ranking of No. 85 is the lowest he has held since 2014, but his participation in the LIV Golf Series has been warned, which has adversely affected his removal from the OWGR weighting system. Ranking of the players involved in the series sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Injury woes compounded the former world No.1’s heavy fall from the summit. After tearing the patella tendon in his left knee in 2019, Koepka said last October that he “dislocated and broke” his right knee in 2021. his injuries were so severe that the American wondered if his career was over.

His struggle to come to terms with his loss of form is revealed in Netflix’s new golf documentary series Full Swing, in which Koepka admits his slump was the “worst” he’s ever seen.

“A lot has happened in my personal life. A lot of failures, man,” Koepka told CNN.

“Injuries, you look back and you sit there a lot of the time. To improve it, you have to endure a lot of pain, a lot. It’s not always fun, it’s not always flashy.”

Koepka struggled for form in 2022.

However, Koepka has fond memories of 2022, notably his marriage to Jena Sims and winning the final singles event of the LIV Golf Invitational series in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in October.

Along with his brother Chase, he also won the respective team event. Given that Koepka had promised to buy his younger brother a Lamborghini if ​​he won, it put a dent in his personal winner’s $4 million haul, but ultimately provided a happy ending to a disappointing campaign.

Brooks and Chase Koepka celebrate their victory at the LIV Golf Invitational in Jeddah.

“To finally have the happy times, the success with all the tough stuff, it was really gratifying … something I can really, really do again,” Koepka said.

“I felt the trend was picking up in the middle of the year – I got out of the funk and I’m glad I’m out of it now.

“Hopefully to put all that stuff behind me and be healthy for a while, that’s the goal.”

Of course, that’s not Koepka’s only goal for 2023. A self-confessed “slow starter,” he wants to be faster by the time the Masters rolls around in April.

Finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2019, the green jacket puts Koepka on track for what he considers a “good” 2023.

“Hopefully a few wins and then a major is the goal every year,” he said.

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